Seattle climate news 10.15.21

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Robin Briggs

Oct 15, 2021, 11:50:37 PM10/15/21
to Seattle Climate News
Once again, lots to report for this week.


The City Council is well into its annual budget process. Next week council members will introduce their amendments to the Mayor's proposed budget. Here's (partial) list of climate oriented items in the draft budget:

  • $14M for Green New Deal: unallocated GND Oversight board ($6.5M), home heating oil conversions for 125 low and middle income homeowners out of 1000 estimated low income homes ($1.7M this year, future funding to come from tax on oil, 1300 oil decommissions in 2020), Environmental Justice Fund grant program, Clean Buildings Accelerator to leverage money from state Clean Buildings Act, clean energy career training scholarships for 75-100 people.

  • Adds $8M Duwamish Valley investment: youth workforce development, clean electric heavy-duty vehicles to reduce diesel emissions as a step to a future zero emission zone in the Duwamish for heavy duty vehicle rebates: drayage trucks, school buses, and other fleets; green industrial lands (clean up), local business support and workforce development. Also includes urban tree canopy & stormwater improvements in the Duwamish Valley.

  • Continued funding for Equity & Environment Initiative, Environmental Justice Committee, Energy Benchmarking and Building Tune-Ups, citywide urban forestry.

  • Comprehensive Plan Major Update. They anticipate the first major update of the city's Urban Village strategy, and will be considering a wider range of alternatives. Need more money in order to compensate community for involvement. Regional Growth Center Subarea Planning: Downtown, Uptown, South Lake Union, University,  Northgate, First Hill/Capitol Hill. ($150K for planning) . Planning for this will run parallel to Comprehensive Plan Update. Will need additional money in future years. This work meets requirement of PSRC.

  • SDOT will fund (and has started on) an Integrated Master Plan ($2.5M), that combines transit, ped, bike (and presumably automobiles) plans, and help inform the next transportation levy. It will develop a Climate Implementation Plan and enhance the Climate & Congestion impact calculator. This includes funding for purchasing transportation data, which should help in calculating transportation emissions. SDOT will fund a permanent Transportation Equity Board. The budget also contains money for an updated cost analysis of the Central Connector, the streetcar line to connect the South Lake Union streetcar with the First Hill/Capitol Hill streetcar that was paused in 2018.

There is one proposed amendment already in from Kshama Sawant proposing an increase to the payroll tax by $120 million for affordable housing and climate to backfill the money from JumpStart (payroll fund) that was used to fill in gaps for city services. 

King County

Executive Dow Constantine transmitted his proposed mid-biennial budget, which contains a new $20 million for climate equity. The Climate Equity Community Task Force shaped the spending priorities, which include the following:

  • White Center Community Hub funding, which will have a significant solar array and provide holistic support to frontline communities disproportionately affected by climate change.

  • Grants to enhance green building components of affordable housing projects.

  • Parks solar lighting to improve safety, walkability, and gathering spaces in underinvested areas.

  • Environmental investments for income-qualified homes, including home energy retrofits and onsite sewage system repairs and replacements.

  • ADA pedestrian improvements in White Center to boost walkability and transit access.

  • Infrastructure to improve opportunities for BIPOC farmers to grow and harvest culturally relevant foods in King County.

County staff have finished work on the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy & Resiliency (C-PACER) program, and the Mobility and Environment Committee will have a hearing for it on Oct. 27.

K4C Elected Official Town Hall on Oct. 19. Click here to join. Leaders from the county and K4C cities will discuss K4C actions to build climate equity and climate resilience into long-term planning.

Puget Sound Regional Council

The Transportation Policy Board is working on a new regional transportation plan. They have done some initial outreach to find out what people want , they are now drafting a plan. The plan will be available for public comment Jan-Feb next year, and is expected to be adopted in May 2022. Thanks to Ryan Packer for their reporting on this.

Washington State

WSDOT has released Part 2 of the Active Transportation Plan, and is seeking public feedback by 5pm on Oct. 29. Part 1 of the Active Transportation Plan was a real game-changer for the statewide debate on infrastructure for walking and rolling.  Click here to respond.

A coalition has launched a new campaign, A Better Future Takes Transportation, to help Washington legislators pass a transformative transportation package. The convening partners are: the Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 587, Climate Solutions, Downtown on the Go!, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 191, the League of Women Voters, Move Redmond, the Nature Conservancy, Transportation Choices Coalition, United Autoworkers Local 4121 and the Washington Build Back Black Alliance. The principles include:

  • Fully fund our transit needs

  • Fully fund biking and walking infrastructure needs

  • Accelerate to electric

  • Prioritize highway preservation over expansion

  • Invest in stormwater infrastructure

  • Prioritize projects based on performance

The HEAL Act requires projects over $15 million have an environmental justice analysis. Lots of questions about how highway expansion programs can pass this.

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